These arborvitae cones were on the ground at a pine siskin hotspot. Three stages are pictured: Top = Spent cones as much as one year old, Middle = Opened cones that were emptied by pine siskins, Bottom = a mix of closed, opened and spent cones.
The huge acorn crop in Schenley Park is attracting many blue jays, squirrels and chipmunks. Here’s what the ground looks like below the oaks at Bartlett Shelter.
In other delights October trees, sky and shadows are spectacular.
Yesterday at Frick Park I found woolly aphids that wouldn’t move. This was a disappointment because I expected them to boogie woogie (like this!). They had all the right characteristics. They were:
White and fluffy,
Clinging to narrow branches, in this case shrub-like tree trunks,
There was a black substance on the trunk below their colony, sooty mold that grows on their accumulated honeydew.
Bees and yellowjackets were feeding on the honeydew seep.
Here are two more photos showing them individually and collectively.
I tried to get them to dance but they refused. I believe they were on alders so that would make them woolly alder aphids.
If you’d like to see them for yourself, look below eye level on slender trunks of shrubs next to Nine Mile Run about 20 steps to the left of the park bench that views the creek. Approximately here: 40.427685, -79.901373.
All summer we noticed curly dock (Rumex crispus) leaves and not the flowers. Now our attention is reversed because the seeds have turned a rich brown. The stalk is ugly, however the seeds are fascinating up close, each one surrounded by the calyx that produced them. The papery wings allow them to float on water and fly a bit in the wind.
The most obvious sign of fall is the temperature. 43 degrees F at dawn today. Speaking of gloves, you’ll need them when you go birding in the morning.
In September porcelain berry’s (Ampelopsis glandulosa) beautiful porcelain-like fruits show why the plant was imported as an ornamental.
Unfortunately this Asian vine is terribly invasive, engulfing small trees and draping itself over large ones.
Some people call it “wild grape” but you’ll never see grapes on it. Just porcelain berries.
This month you’ll find common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) blooming in meadows, along roads and bike trails. The name implies that it opens only in the evening but I photographed these at midday. The flowers are 1-2 inches wide. The plants are hard to miss at six feet tall.
Meanwhile, bug love continues. This pair of goldenrod soldier beetles (also called Pennsylvania leatherwing (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus)) are perched on a flower in the Aster family while working to continue their species.
Spend time outdoors this week while the weather is good. Autumn is beautiful and all too short.
p.s. Thank you to Monica Miller and John English for correcting my bug identification mistake!
p.p.s. Did you notice that Pennsylvania is misspelled in the bug’s scientific name (only 1 ‘n’). This is not the only species with this misspelling. Can you name another?
Each flower holds the secret to the bean. In the closeup below you see irregular yellow petals, stamens with brown anthers, and a tiny green stem with fuzzy white edges — the pistil. Instead of a single ovary at the base of the pistil there’s apparently a row of ovaries inside.
When the flower is fertilized, the yellow petals fall off. The stamens and pistil remain.
As the fuzzy green pistil grows the anthers fall off
Though still fuzzy, the former pistil begins to look like a bean pod.
The remaining twigs fall off, the bean pods lose their fuzz and Ta Dah!
Meanwhile at Frick Park the goats and their guard donkey are back in the large enclosure at Clayton East, munching away at invasive plants. The black goat at the fence is eating mile-a-minute weed on the fencing. Yay!
This week brought a profusion of August flowers and very localized rain.
Above, tansy’s rayless flower heads look like daisies without petals. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) has only one kind of flower — the small yellow ones in the central disk. Daisies have two kinds — the central disk plus white flower rays.
Below, cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is blooming in Schenley Park showing off the cupped leaves that give it its name.
Asiatic dayflower (Commelina communis) can be invasive, too, though the flower lasts only a day.
This week brought rain to our new home north of Schenley Park and continuing drought just south of here. At home on 11 August it rained so hard that a bug took shelter on our window. Its location 70 feet off the ground explains why chimney swifts fly so high.
While the bug was avoiding rain north of Schenley, no rain fell in the park just a mile away.